Journal of environmental management

Reuse of spent granular activated carbon for organic micro-pollutant removal from treated wastewater.

PMID 26093103


Spent granular activated carbons (sGACs) for drinking water treatments were reused via pulverizing as low-cost adsorbents for micro-pollutant adsorption from a secondary treated wastewater effluent. The changes of physicochemical characteristics of the spent carbons in relation to the fresh carbons were determined and were correlated to the molecular properties of the respective GAC influents (i.e. a surface water and a groundwater). Pore size distribution analysis showed that the carbon pore volume decreased over a wider size range due to preloading by surface water, which contains a broader molecular weight distribution of organic matter in contrast to the groundwater. However, there was still considerable capacity available on the pulverized sGACs for atrazine adsorption in demineralized water and secondary effluent, and this was particularly the case for the groundwater spent GAC. However, as compared to the fresh counterparts, the decreased surface area and the induced surface acidic groups on the pulverized sGACs contributed both to the lower uptake and the more impeded adsorption kinetic of atrazine in the demineralized water. Nonetheless, the pulverized sGACs, especially the one preloaded by surface water, was less susceptible to adsorption competition in the secondary effluent, due to its negatively charged surface which can repulse the accessibility of the co-present organic matter. This suggests the reusability of the drinking water spent GACs for micro-pollutant adsorption in the treated wastewater.